Make Renting Fair is a coalition of over 70 organisations and local councils, and thousands of individual supporters calling for better rights for over 1.5 million Victorians who rent their homes.
A long overdue change
On 24 June 2016, the Victorian Government announced its intention to review the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) – the first comprehensive review of the state’s tenancy legislation in almost two decades.
In the months that followed, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) released Residential Tenancies Act Review: Laying the Groundwork Consultation Paper and a series of six issues papers. In January 2017, CAV released Heading for Home: Residential Tenancies Act Review Options Discussion Paper for further consultation. Close to 5,000 public comments were submitted by the general public and a range of organisations associated with the housing sector.
With the publication of the final options paper, it soon became clear that passive consultation was not going to adequately safeguard the rights of Victorian renters. While the options paper contained a number of positive changes, it also contained many changes that would have a significant negative impact on renters’ safety, stability and privacy.
We all need a safe and stable foundation to build our lives on
With these three pillars in mind, Tenants Victoria took a more decisive step to make sure renters’ rights weren’t diminished at the conclusion of the review. While Make Renting Fair initially started as a campaign, it fast became a coalition of over 70 organisations and local councils united in their shared goal.
Make Renting Fair was officially launched on 15 May 2017 calling for ten key reforms to the RTA:
- Improve security of tenure and rental access by:
- Removing ‘no reason’ eviction notices
- Protecting people from unjust tenancy database practices
- Protect tenant and their families by:
- Introducing minimum property standards that address health, safety and energy efficiency
- Creating incentives for repairs
- Expand privacy and fair use protections by:
- Preventing unwanted visits and photography
- Allowing tenants to undertake fair modifications
- Protect low income and vulnerable tenants by:
- Preventing unreasonable evictions
- Implementing the Family Violence Royal Commission recommendations
- Rule out punitive measures that would harm tenants, particularly those at risk of homelessness, including:
- Rejecting proposed changes that would make evicting people quicker and easier
- Rejecting the enforcement of onerous/unfair lease terms
- Giving renters the right to have pets at no extra cost
- Rejecting restrictions on stays by guests and family
- Maintaining existing protections for vulnerable tenants
Throughout its run, it would obtain the support of over 70 organisation and local councils and thousands of individuals, renters and landlords alike.
A few drops can start a raging river
The campaign’s first big win occurred on 8 October 2017, when Premier Daniel Andrews announced a package of 14 reforms to the RTA, dubbed ‘RentFair’. Supporters of Make Renting Fair celebrated this recognition that renters deserve a fairer balance of rights.
Despite initial acclaim, silence on the progress of the reforms soon followed. There was also a notable lack of information regarding other important changes such as privacy provisions and added protections for victims of family violence. Make Renting Fair would continue its campaigning for close to a year, gradually increasing its public actions as the months progressed. The campaign paired up with many of its supporters, including the Everybody’s Home Campaign for a viral social media campaign designed to shine a light on the real issues affecting renters.
Our hard work paid off on 5 August 2018 when the Victorian Government announced its intention to introduce the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 to the Lower House of Parliament that month. The Bill was 500 pages long and contained 388 clauses addressing all of Make Renting Fair’s key policy asks.
Despite efforts to quash the Bill from multiple fronts, it was passed through the Lower House on 23 August and through the Upper House on 6 September.
Make Renting Fair would like to acknowledge the Victorian Government’s leadership and the support of the Greens and crossbench MPs Ms Fiona Patten, Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins and Mr James Purcell. We look forward to working with the State Government to develop the forthcoming regulations pertaining to this bill.